Saturday, February 08, 2014

Pale Male and Octavia Sky Dance and The Very Hungry Crow


Pale Male (up left), and Octavia are doing a little sky dancing or more properly, they are performing courtship flights, these days.  And the way one can tell if copulation is happening (no word from the ground on that yet) or soon copulation will be is that they begin to hang their talons down as they fly.  See Octavia's legs?  Not tucked up as they usually are during flight.  It won't be long now!


Earlier today I looked out the window toward the feeders and there was a Crow standing on the privacy fence.  She didn't look good.. Her feathers were more puffed up than the other Crows and she was squatting a little so her feathers covered her feet slightly.  But the biggest thing was that she looked right at me and instead of taking off to a higher perch as is normal for Crows, a suspicious species,  she just stared at me.

I flashed back on a conversation I had yesterday. I'd been talking to one of the local rehabbers and she said this time of year is what she calls "the dying time".  It is particularly the case this winter as the temperatures are single digits or below zero almost constantly, the snow is very deep, so overwintering creatures have depleted their fat reserves and there is yet no end in sight of  deep winter..

She looked BAD.

I looked around for something to grab quickly so I could immediately go and put it out on the goodie stump.  I grabbed my coat,  a stale bisquit, and the tail end of a loaf of raisin bread and headed out the back door.  When I turned the corner she was still there.  I held my hands out so she could see I had food.  Her two companions, remember a Crow foraging party tends to be three birds, had taken off just as I came around the house.  I got half way to her before she finally flew up into the Pondorosa Pine.  I watched her go but she stumbled when she made to land on the branch.  Another bad sign.

I broke up what I had and laid it on the slat on the fence instead of the stump so it would be easier for her to get.

I purposely didn't open the curtains or look out the window to watch as I wanted the weak Crow to be comfortable getting the food as soon as possible.  I got on with other things.

A while later I went to the laundry room and  looked out the curtain covered window to check if the food was gone.
The food was gone and the Crow was back sitting on the fence.

She obviously sees me but doesn't flush off the fence. Unusual.  

Oh no!  

They hadn't had enough in this bitter weather.  

Time to get out the big guns and something more nutritious than bread with raisins in it.

Time to raid the fridge for the good stuff. 

If it were me what would I want.  I rummaged.  Ah ha!  I'd made homemade beef stew some days ago and there was some left.  Actually with fragmented food you aren't really supposed to eat it after three days.  Perfect excuse to share.

Out it came.  I stuck it in the microwave to take the chill off and headed out the back door.

When she saw me instead of flying up into the pine she just flew a few feet over onto the top branch of the Sparrow Pile.  A squirrel had taken refuge there as well and she pecked at him when he tried to get on her skinny branch which likely would have dumped both of them.

 She watches.  Alert.  But she is sticking to the branch and not flying away.  I'm really quite close.  I spoon the stew out onto the slate of snow covered wood that holds up the suet feeder. It  is right below where she had been previously perched.  I turn and head back to the house, then throw my coat off and head for the appropriate windows.  

Drat!  I hadn't opened the curtains even yet.  This will spook her.

I pull the curtains back
By the time I get to the laundry room she is leaning forward looking at the stew.  It will be the chunks of meat that she is craving.  She sees me and sticks.

One foot tucked up in her belly feathers for warmth, she stares at the stew.  

I hope she soon feels comfortable enough to fly over and eat.  I don't detect the other Crows.  Interesting.  They are letting her go first twice.

I turn and walk from the laundry room.  I don't try to spy on her from other windows; I busy myself with other things.

12 minutes later when I peer out the laundry room window, every speck of meat is gone and there had been numerous large chunks.

The potatoes and carrots remain.  Good.  She's had enough and no fear the remainder will go to waste.  Not in this weather. Someone who needs  the calories will eat it.

Well kind readers, I'd meant to put Part 3 of the Eagle search up tonight but as it is 5am.  Part 3 is best left for Saturday.

Just in time to finish that part of the saga so I can go looking for Eagles again on this Sunday too.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne


No comments: